[image credit : Media Gallery]
Legislators in Ireland are currently debating controversial legislation that would see online bookmakers doing business in the country required to pay a 1% levy on turnover.
The Betting Amendment Bill was introduced to Cabinet on Tuesday and contains a measure that would extend the existing duty on bets placed in land-based shops to online wagers in hopes of generating up to €17 million in tax.
If the measure is approved by the Cabinet, it will then be published, go to the European Union Commission for approval, which is a process that could take up to three months, and subsequently go for a vote in the Irish Parliament later in the year.
According to a report from The Irish Times Newspaper, Horse Racing Ireland and the Greyhound Board are welcoming the measure’s legislative progress as both want the additional cash to help top-up the state-administered Horse and Greyhound Fund, which has seen its total fall from €61m ($79.5m) in 2008 to €44m ($57.4m) this year.
The original 2001 legislation that established the Fund created a link between itself and the betting tax but former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan broke this connection in 2008 despite pledging that the state would continue to support both.
The Irish Times reported that bookmakers including Boylesports and Paddy Power have warned the government that enforcement is likely to be critical if the online betting tax is passed as any failure to levy it on overseas operators would hand these firms a competitive advantage.
Michael Bent, Head of Finance for Boylesports, stated that his company was happy to pay once there was a level playing field for everyone in the market.
“In the event of there not being a level playing field, the only ones that will be penalised will be Irish companies,” said Bent.